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Doug's Mailbag: Ribbon Rage, Tablet Computers, IE Feedback

We start today's mailbag with an e-mail from a reader calling Doug out on some of his statements regarding Microsoft's riboon and sharing his own thoughts on it:

Your column in the April issue marks at least twice you have somewhat misinformed your readers on the subject of menu commands in Office 2007. The old menu commands are still there; there are just no menus to get to them. You have to remember the keystrokes (always beginning with Alt-something) on your own (which shouldn't be too hard for the "curmudgeonly users"). In fact, you generally get to the old dialog boxes directly from the ribbon interface for the more sophisticated tasks (such as changing axis features in Excel charts).

My personal opinion is that the ribbon is a disaster. It is slightly more convenient for the simple tasks, but requires many more keystrokes (or mouse clicks) to get to the really detailed stuff. More importantly, it's ugly and uses up too much real-estate; I keep it closed most of the time. I have also voted with my feet. I use OpenOffice whenever I can.

After the highly publicized release of the Apple iPad and a whole slew of tablet-based computers on the horizon, Doug asked you whether one is in your budget for the near future:

Regarding your question is there is a table in my future. I would say yes. I am not an early adapter. I'll give the market some time to sort out. I hear that there will be an Android tablet before the end of the year. As far as HP Slate vs iPad I'd pick the iPad over the slate. I'm a windows guy but the iPad has all that I need and more.

I'm strongly leaning towards the iPad (my wife hates Apple and I'll probably be drawn and quartered for buying one, but what the hey).

I'll probably pick one up next year when I would suppose the second generation version would be out.

There is a tablet in my future: Windows 7 Tablet -- outdoor viewable AND Wacom pen capable. Touch would be nice. Doesn't need to have a keyboard, but it better have at least two USB ports, SD card reader, Wifi and Bluetooth. I intend to use it with a Clear Wimax dongle for on the go. As long as the battery is replaceable and lasts 2-plus hours going full out, I'm not going to whine about battery life.

If I had to pick a brand, I'd prefer it was Lenovo, with Toshiba as a second choice and all others being equal after that.

With the info that IE 9 may just be around the corner, one reader shares their thoughts on what Microsoft should do to make it great:

Work closely with Adobe to get a version of Flash to work in the 64-bit version. I like IE best but use Foxfire all the time because of stability issues.

Out of the box with my newer HP Win 7 laptop, IE would continuously freeze whether in the 32- or 64-bit version. I love the accelerators and the private browsing features. I see no sense in purchasing a 64-bit laptop, with a 64-bit OS when I won't be able to use the browser because of Flash. After about four months I'm still waiting for the bugs to be worked out.

Another feature I would like to see is a one-click, clean cached info button instead of going through the menus. Then again, if they could get PrivateBrowsing to work reliably I wouldn't need that!


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Posted by Doug Barney on April 16, 2010